During the week, lawyers across Mozambique were presiding over lawsuits filed by Renamo, the main opposition party, on the grounds that the results of the local elections had been grossly manipulated in favour of the ruling Frelimo party.
In urban districts (ka’Mpfumo and ka’Nhlamakulu) the judges ordered a rerun of the 11 October elections, and another in ka’Mavota, the largest urban district and constituency in Maputo municipality, ordered a recount of the results of 185 of the 258 results sheets (editais). The judge in ka’Mubukwana dismissed Renamo’s case and even refused to read out the decision in court.
In Matola, the judge had dismissed Renamo’s appeal on Monday, but on Thursday ruled in favour of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) and ordered a recount of votes all over Matola.
In Quelimane, a judge dismissed Renamo’s appeal, as did a judge in Nampula, ordering only the correction of some data on some results sheets.
This soft turn in the approach to electoral disputes in the courts of first instance suggests that there is a strategy to give Renamo some legal victories, but not enough to change the manipulated result, especially in the city of Maputo, which the Frelimo hard core elements prefer not to leave in the hands of the opposition, or to entertain and control the opposition with this fait divers and maintain the fraud, a powerful weapon in the struggle for political control of the party.
As such, the judges are under a lot of political pressure to ensure that they use every legal argument and manoeuvres possible to confirm the fraudulent results of 11 October.
However, in some places, some judges may have put the brakes on the alleged strategy by favouring the rule of law over political pressure. For example, the vote recount in Matola is likely to cause Frelimo heartburns, since the parallel count shows that Renamo won.
The wave of opposition appeals is putting the judicial system to the test, as some cases end up in the Constitutional Council, which functions as an electoral court during elections. Like the CNE and STAE, the question is whether the justices of the politically configured Constitutional Council will heed political instructions or the dictates of the law.
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